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Kurdistan President, KDP leader denounce massacre of Iraqi civilians in Salahuddin

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The President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, and the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, denounced on Sunday the killing of a group of Sunni civilians kidnapped in rural Salahuddin province.

Local police found the bodies of eight individuals in Farhatiya village, Balad district, Salahuddin province of the twelve that were abducted by unidentified gunmen, early reporting indicated. The fate of the rest remains unclear.

“We strongly condemn the heinous crime,” President Barzani said in a statement that urged the federal government of Iraq to take “speedy measures” to find the “terror group” behind it.

Masoud Barzani stated that Baghdad, the relevant authorities, and the country’s political forces “must cooperate with each other to put an end to this kind of crime. He also stressed the importance of “achieving stability and working to protect the lives of citizens.”

While no group has claimed responsibility, Iraqi lawmaker Raad al-Dahlaki said on his Twitter account the killing “is not the first and it will not be the last carried out by the outlawed sectarian militias,” likely a reference to Iranian-backed elements of the Hashd al-Shaabi, known in English as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Dahlaki called on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to “end this recklessness.” The Iraqi Joint Operations Command ordered a committee to go to the area to investigate the matter.

The lawmaker is the deputy head of the Sunni Alliance of Iraqi Forces—led by the legislature’s speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi—which represents areas liberated from the so-called Islamic State, including Salahuddin, Anbar, Diyala, and Nineveh provinces.

As the head of the parliamentary committee for migration and displacement, Dahlaki has criticized Shia militias for allegedly hampering the return of people displaced by the emergence and the war on ISIS

The Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militias, part of the PMF, is reportedly the main security operator in the area. Local media reports suggested that the incident came after a suspected Islamic State attack killed an AAH member in the region.

The PMF said in a statement on Sunday that the same Islamic State extremists that attacked its fighters were behind the abductions, alleging further that the terrorist organization was attempting to sow division among different communities.

On Saturday, Halbousi ordered the formation of a fact-finding committee to investigate the abduction and killings.

Kadhimi arrived in Farhatiya on Sunday and told the families of the victims in a funeral gathering that the blood of their loved ones “will not be lost, and we will order the strengthening of the security forces' presence and providing more protection” to the area.

Accompanying Kadhimi in the Salahuddin visit were the ministers of defense and interior, the head of the Popular Mobilization Commission, the Chief of Staff of the Army, and the Deputy Commander of Joint Operations.
The premier pledged to pursue the perpetrators and said, “Terrorism will have no place or shelter, no matter how it tries to infiltrate again.
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